Design Masterworks 17 November 2016

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Osvaldo Borsani

Unique cabinet

Arredamenti Borsani
Italy, 1949
mahogany, maple, lapis lazuli, brass
106½ w x 19¼ d x 39¾ h in (271 x 49 x 101 cm)

estimate: $30,000–50,000

Cabinet features six doors concealing three compartments; two outer compartments house adjustable shelving and central compartment features ten drawers. Signed with applied metal manufacturer's label to interior: [Arredamenti Borsani Varedo Milano]. Sold with a certificate of authenticity from the Archivio Osvaldo Borsani and photocopy of original measured drawings.

provenance: Acquired directly from the original owner by the present owner

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Osvaldo Borsani


Designer Osvaldo Borsani was born in Switzerland in 1911. As a teenager, Borsani studied architecture at the Politecnico di Milano. When he was just twenty two years old, he was awarded the silver medal for his modernist Little House design at the Triennial Exhibition of Milan. Borsani and his twin brother, Fulgrenzio, whom he worked with throughout his career, founded the company Tecno in 1953.

Wanting to utilize innovative means of production, Borsani strove to design furniture that was comfortable and yet cutting edge. The firm first exhibited at the 10th Milan Triennial Exhibition, where his designs were displayed inside of a futuristic Buckminster Fuller dome. Borsani’s design for a divanbed won an honorable mention; fellow exhibitors included Charles and Ray Eames, Marco Zanuso, and Carlo de Carli. One of the most lauded pieces of furniture manufactured by Tecno was the P40 adjustable armchair, a chair that has more than 450 positions. Created in 1955, the P40 was constructed out of rubber and foam, innovative materials that made the chair flexible. However, Tecno’s most popular line was the Graphis office furniture.

In addition to mass-market furniture, the Borsanis completed numerous commissions and custom interiors. In 1962, Osvaldo received the coveted Golden Compass Award for his contributions to the field of Italian industrial design. In 1969, Osvaldo founded of the Tecno Designs Centre, which allowed groups of designers to collaboratively design Tecno products, with Osvaldo overseeing.

His thoughts achieved immediate concreteness in his effortless and confident lines, which were delightful for their clarity and synthesis.

—Valeria Borsani